yesterday i did a quick tally of my cycling this year, and it looks like i rode between 2700 and 4000km (26km 'standard trip', never less than twice a week but more commonly 3-4 times, all year round).

not too bad, considering my slacker nature...

[ published on Fri 23.12.2011 10:09 | filed in still-not-king | ]

The current wanking draft for HTML5, section translates into the W3C saying 'standards are a good thing, but we are clairvoyant and know better than all of you, so fuck them standards and all the people actually relying on standards compliance!'

Dear W3C, when I label material as being encoded in iso-8859-1 then I MEAN ISO-8859-1 and not smart-shite-infested windows-1252, thank you very much.

Your oh-so-helpful labelling of this mess a 'willful violation, motivated by a desire for compatibility' motivates me to shoot you all on sight.

[ published on Fri 16.12.2011 22:26 | filed in interests/anti | ]

I've got these Ikea spice racks in my kitchen, and the way I installed them they needed to be fastened to the wall for stability. I didn't want to drill the tiles, however.

Once again my answer is "recycling": I habitually salvage the magnets from dead hard drives. The spice rack is coated steel, the magnets are pretty strong and so I simply glued a bunch of them onto the tiles. Silicone sealant makes a decent glue for operations like that, and it's removable if need be. Problem solved.

 spice shelf magnets spice shelf magnets
[ published on Thu 15.12.2011 22:55 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

...doesn't have to be high tech. I've got a new toy that I really like:


It's a Aristo 868 slide rule, and I find it pretty amazing how much you can do with it. Best of all: no batteries :-)

I'm obviously not against high tech, for example:


That's my trusty HP 28S, which I got in 1988 - RPN forever! But still there is a certain minimalistic appeal to the simple magic of sliding log scales...

[ published on Thu 15.12.2011 22:29 | filed in interests/comp | ]

I like gumtree quite a bit: it's free for private ads, no registration required, simple email-based access and best of all it works. When my nephew visited we needed a car seat for him, and the second ad I responded to worked out. Now that Emil is back in Vienna the seat is surplus. I posted an ad two days ago, had four responses within 24 hours and sold the seat today (for the same amount as I paid two months ago). Very nice.

I just hope ebay (who own gumtree via some subsidiary nowadays) don't stuff this service up...

[ published on Fri 02.12.2011 09:56 | filed in interests/au | ]

One week ago: I detect a leaking hose under the bathroom wash basin. Fortunately it was only the fitting that needed to be screwed on a little tighter.

Sunday: the water filter (under-sink twin system, in the kitchen) is leaking badly. Repair attempts showed that the plastic filter housings had developed cracks and were about to start spraying water big-time.

Sunday, part 2: So I bunkered some 20l of filtered water in a plastic water bladder, just to tide me over until the filter was back in operation. However, the collapsible water canister has also suffered a puncture and leaked almost as badly as the filter.

Monday: I checked with the original supplier of the kit (7 years later, and the local company is still thriving, a good sign) and it turns out that the cheap filter housings that I ordered in 2004 should be replaced every 5 years or thereabouts. I ordered the (marginally pricier) premium housings on Tuesday, got them on Wednesday and all is well again.

I heartily endorse PSI Filters: they are local(-ish: Tasmanian), their prices are good, and their advice and customer service are great.

[ published on Thu 01.12.2011 20:23 | filed in brainfarts | ]

I mean Conny - who doesn't update her blog very often - but then neither do I. Anyway, here are some more-or-less recent photos of the bestest kid ever (most taken while my sister+partner+nephew Emil were visiting Oz).

 conny grad angekommen conny party-ready conny hiking binnaburra conny camping at moogerah conny roos paul emil conny nina sydney zoo paul emil conny nina sydney zoo paul barbara emil conny coogee paul barbara emil conny coogee paul barbara emil conny coogee

And here you see some happy fools. (Emil is at an age where most things are hilarious, I'm just a fool.)

 az emil treetop walk
[ published on Tue 29.11.2011 15:45 | filed in brainfarts | ]

If you are like me, relying on good old MH/NMH and mh-e and exmh to do your mail, then you'll know that there are few decent solutions for synchronizing your MH boxes between computers.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Tue 29.11.2011 15:20 | filed in mystuff | ]

From the aptly named 'strange but true' category (in the Sydney Morning Herald news) here's a story about ridiculously gullible people.

[ published on Tue 22.11.2011 10:05 | filed in interests/humour | ]
 style contrasts
[ published on Mon 26.09.2011 17:26 | filed in brainfarts | ]

(with apologies to any non-Austrian readers for the utterly untranslatable title...)

Today we turned this:

 old bed before

into this:

 bed finished

and here's the story.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Thu 22.09.2011 23:15 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

Saw this ludicrously impractical toy in the IKEA carpark two days ago, and thought 'now that's not your typical IKEA customer...'

 lambo at ikea lambo at ikea
[ published on Wed 21.09.2011 17:22 | filed in brainfarts | ]

The laundry and the water heater are renewed and I'm declaring the renovation work in this place done, finished, over. (I know, I know, famous last words and all that - but at least I don't plan any further biggies). Here are some photos of the exercise.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Wed 14.09.2011 00:55 | filed in interests/au | ]

Not bad: since the new meter went in, I consumed electricity worth $81 - and received $43 credit for the energy my solar panels created.

[ published on Tue 13.09.2011 23:30 | filed in interests/au | ]

but then that's maybe a good thing? Because Tron = pretty cool for 1982, but Tron Guy = doubleplusuncool, anytime.

Recently I bought some pretty cheap LED strips (5050-type, 60 LEDs/meter, flexible, waterproof and self-adhesive, can be cut every 5cm, cost $72 for ten meters) for overhauling the under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen. One old laptop PSU went into the range hood casing (displacing the trashy light sockets that thing had) and the left side is powered by a low-profile LED transformer. Mounting the stuff is a breeze: cut to size, cut and peel back a little of the silicon waterproofing, solder on wires, then peel off the backing paper and stick it in place, done.

 kueche mit leds kueche links leds kitchen leds left kueche rechts leds kueche wie tron

I think it looks great - I'm pretty sure my sisters will say it looks like an abattoir... It's certainly very nice for working and it's also pretty frugal for the amount of light (about 2A at 12V on the left side, a bit less on the right).

[ published on Sat 03.09.2011 22:25 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

Look, a leak - quick, get a plumber!

IMNSHO the cablegate-gate serves assange right, after dribbling out just some of the cables and in homeopathetic amounts over a year.

Information wants to be free after all:-)

[ published on Fri 02.09.2011 15:08 | filed in interests/humour | ]
 dolly parton threatens to visit real soon

That's a screenshot from a recent TV advertisment where Dolly Parton threatens she'll visit Oz real soon, after leaving us in peace for the previous 28 years.

Partlejuice indeed: looks like she spent those umpteen years well interred and/or hitting the botox clinics.

[ published on Mon 29.08.2011 23:16 | filed in interests/humour | ]

dear wikileaks webhamsters, would you please stop inflating every single damn cable with all the navigational fluff? it's all empty carbs, you know, and makes mirroring you a FPITA.

if you downloaded the latest cablegate snapshot via bittorrent you might be surprised that it's only about 300 megabytes (for 150k cables) - but you WILL be unpleasantly surprised when you unpack that archive: it expands (like kudzu) to a whopping 30+ gigabytes.

the reason: every single cable page is infested with links everywhere else and then some, so that the actual content is just about 3%.

take this cable for example: after ripping out all the gunk between <div class='pane small'> (might have called the css class 'pain, big') and the closing </div> after 'courage is contagious', the page shrinks from a whopping 168k to just 6k. the cleaned page thus consumes only 3.6% of the disk space and network bandwidth of the fugly original beast (and don't forget there's 150 thousand such occurrences right now).

nobody, dear leakers, is going to mirror 30+g of you strutting your fluff on a daily basis - but a decent, still navigatable 7g would be a very different story.

[ published on Mon 29.08.2011 13:57 | filed in interests/anti | ]

aldi had cheap wasabi peas today, mjam!

[ published on Thu 25.08.2011 17:26 | filed in brainfarts | ]

If you're situated somewhere near the Gold Coast and need a Unix/Linux sysadmin/netadmin/security person/software geek for some Unix-related magic, then you might like to know that I'm for hire (casual/hourly or long-term).

I'm likely not the cheapest around (cf. 'pay peanuts, get monkeys') but then I'm quite good at what I'm doing and have a fair amount of experience (22+ years various Unixes, C, Assembler, Lisp, 19+ years Linux, 15+ years Perl, 10+ years as Debian Developer - thus quite familiar with Debian and its derivatives like Ubuntu - and so on...)

[ published on Tue 16.08.2011 10:42 | filed in about/me | ]

Exactly ten years ago I arrived in Australia.

[ published on Wed 10.08.2011 11:06 | filed in still-not-king | ]

include, amongst others, that they're patronizing little FPOS.

[ published on Thu 21.07.2011 21:17 | filed in interests/humour | ]

It's 21:30, you've had a bit of the runs and managed to block your toilet with overenthusiastic usage of toilet paper. You have no plunger and an Evil Overflow Event is lurking. What do you do?
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sun 17.07.2011 15:25 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Some time ago I wrote up my experiences with running gpg remotely. This post documents the most recent changes I've made to my setup, which finally make my gpg (and ssh) keys fully mobile and 'migratory'.

Like before I use the kernel key storage system to cache passphrases (and that won't change until I switch to gnupg2 with the agent). But now my keys are all stored on a usb stick, in an encrypted filesystem.

When I login the first time any day, I load the keys from the encrypted storage into a RAM disk. (A simple symlink in ~/.gnupg is sufficient to convince gnupg to find the secret ring.) When I leave for/from work I nuke the RAM disk - that way the keys are always only present where I physically am.

The big new change from the previous setup is that now I use sshfs when I need to use gpg for anything on a remote box: I ssh into the target box with a remote port forwarded back to a listening instance of sftp-server on the local box (which has the keys in RAM). With agent forwarding on, the sshfs connection doesn't require entering passwords, and the mount point is of course set to be the same as the RAM disk location for locally loaded keys, so to gpg it's totally transparent. (I'd never do any of this if not all machines in question were under my exclusive full control.)

sshfs is no speed daemon, but then the secret ring file isn't large. sshfs with -o directport on the forwarded port reuses the existing outbound ssh connection, so one single outbound ssh connection does it all - and another benefit of that setup is that the keys vanish from the remote machine as soon as the outbound ssh connection is shut down.

The one simple shell script doing all this setup is less than 60 lines long: simple, neat, sufficient.

[ published on Wed 13.07.2011 20:26 | filed in interests/crypto | ]

What do you do with dead hard disks? I usually salvage the magnets; the larger ones make perfect holders for things like tools, knifes or mobiles.

Here's my ghetto mobile mount, mk.2: a 3x3cm piece of thin sheet metal sellotaped to the back of the phone and two fat ex-disk magnets screwed to the dashboard. Plenty strong, vibration-proof and completely invisible under the silicone phone cover. And, of course, zero cost.

 ghetto mount ghetto mount
[ published on Mon 11.07.2011 22:12 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

zeit wars, und gut is: der letzte von den 'adligen' gfriesern, ein gewisser otto, ist jetzt endlich abgebankelt. zeit hat er sich gelassen - wie mit allem anderen, wie zb. dem herrschafts-ansprüche aufgeben (das hat bis 1961 hallo?!?).

aber sogar einen widerling wie den da erwischt es irgendwann - und jetzt kriechen ihm, wie in ö ja so üblich und komplett erwartet - posthum die ganzen schwarzen und sonstwie ewiggestrigen deppen in den modrigen arsch.

[ published on Mon 04.07.2011 23:05 | filed in interests/anti | ]

ring ring goes my (private) mobile phone.

me: hello, alex speaking.

her: hi it's <female, australian> with telstra, how are you?

me: fine, thanks. (that's a polite lie: i hate the telco monopolist and avoid them wherever i can. they shouldn't have this number, btw.)

her: that's great. please note that this call may be recorded or monitored for training and quality assurance purposes. are you ok with that?

me: no, i'm not. i do not want this call to be recorded.

her: brief pause while some thoughts scramble through her hamster brain, which is obviously completely lost when things leave the crib sheet path oh, but why do you not want that call recorded?

me: i do not want this call to be recorded.

her: but what's the problem?

me: i do not want this call to be recorded.

her: ok, i won't be able to continue this call then. have a good day. click

me: happy

Next time I think I'll ask for extra anchovies with my pizza (if male sales weasel) or request some telephone sex (if female).


See also: It's Lenny, a recent development by an Australian BOFH with my kind of humour. VOIP rocks :-)

[ published on Wed 08.06.2011 17:07 | filed in still-not-king | ]

Looks like some of my students think I'm a reincarnation of Werner Kuich - not because of any brilliance on my side but because of his really special first lectures which scared off a good number of prospective students (the subsequent lectures were then held at a quite humane speed and pretty good IMHO).

So a number of the more unwilling members of my flock decided to bail out early - which is of course their call (at the ork place they can switch subjects until end of week 2) - but it still rankles to have this kind of desertion just because you a) expect them to start working in week 1 (duh!), b) don't dumb down the content to the level of 'reading for dummies' and c) require that they allocate a few working brain cells to this here university education thing.

[ published on Mon 06.06.2011 18:35 | filed in brainfarts | ]

once more i got nice feedback from somebody out there who benefits from my tinkering - it's very nice to see that one's efforts aren't totally wasted.

here is the original post about pam_recent for context; the newest version (with documentation) is here.

lorenco catucci suggested that pam_recent works better for rate limiting services that don't terminate the network connection on a failed login if it offered handlers for the other pam phases too, most importantly auth.

that way, one can use pam_recent to record that somebody attempts access in an iptables' recent list, and clear the record if and only if the connection gets to the account or session stage. in this setup pam is providing the control and iptables recent match just enforces the limits.

nice idea, just a few simple changes required and the result is better and more useful than before.

[ published on Sat 04.06.2011 15:33 | filed in mystuff | ]

..of those high-energy photons, please! Ahem. On Monday the sparkies performed the solar installation on my roof (6 big panels for a nominal 1.5kW of lovely solar electricity).

We'll see how much of my energy needs that will take care of (it won't be all for sure; I usually need about 11kW/day and a 1.5kW installation won't provide more than 60% of that) - but the feed in tariffs for exporting energy to the grid are good (so far): you get quite a bit more for your exported kW than you pay for consumption.

Now I just need to wire up the inverter's serial port and start logging performance with rrdtool...

[ published on Wed 01.06.2011 11:51 | filed in interests/au | ]

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